In 2004, I stayed in my college roommate’s one-room apartment in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. I was there for only a few days, but I will always remember the small place.
It was unique, but one aspect of the place still stands out most in my mind. It was a third-story apartment that was level with a metro station. The trains regularly would screech to a halt—brakes grinding against the steel railway—directly in front of the apartment’s windows. The trains stopped so close that the windows, the computer, and the range would rattle.
All conversations had to pause until the train finally moved along to the next station.
And a decade later, the apartment has become a setting for a fiction story.
How can I remember all the details that make up the neighborhood? Google Maps.
Google Maps, as well as other mapping applications such as Bing Maps, can take writers to amazing new places and old ones, all in the click of a mouse. The various maps can give slightly different pictures of the same place.
Through these maps, you can get setting descriptions for your writing, or find how far it is to walk from one place to another by car, train, bike, or even by foot.
The Brooklyn neighborhood was unlike my townhouse in downtown Washington, DC. This famous part of New York City was a foreign land, as far as I was concerned.
Nevertheless, I can revisit the place whenever I wish without a fear of pick-pockets.